It all started when Blake Smith was six and his father bought a lawnmower for him and his half-brother, Curtis Hogan. While Hogan gave up mowing lawns to work in retail, Smith kept at it. By the time he was 16, he was making about $1,200 a week mowing 60 lawns.
As his business grew, Smith added landscaping services like fertilizing to his list of offerings.
But as the weather got cooler in the winter months, so did Smith's business. Looking for an opportunity that would appeal to seasonal workers like him, Smith founded Christmas DÃ©cor in 1996. The Lubbock, Texas, company, which is used as an add-on business by landscapers, pool installers and other outdoor workers, decorates homes and businesses with lights, signs and other pieces for the winter holidays.
Inspired by the success of Christmas DÃ©cor, which currently has more than 300 franchisees in the United States and Canada, Smith worked to create a similar business that could be operated year-round. With Hogan's help, Smith founded Nite Time DÃ©cor in 1999.
Nite Time franchisees design and install landscape lighting for homes and businesses. Before any installation, franchisees meet with customers to do a night demonstration, showing them exactly how their yard, patio or pool area will look with the new lighting. Once the lighting is installed, maintenance visits, which include changing bulbs and cleaning fixtures, occur every six months.
But the first time the lights go on, that's a moment that makes Smith proud. "We really paint a portrait with light," he says, "and when we're finished, people are pretty overwhelmed with what it looks like."